Are you looking for ways to open your shoulders? Look no further because you have come to the right place 🙂 For years, I have been doing many movements and exercises to go against hunched shoulders. But, developing open shoulders is not so easy to achieve. The silly thing is, a lot of our everyday movements and habits revolve around movement toward the front-side of our body. We write or type with our arms in front of us and do the same while cooking. A regular habit while waiting? We cross our arms, again, in front of us. Specific shoulder opener exercises act as counterposes to all that forward motion. Here I share 3 easy ones for open shoulders that you can do while sitting, standing, or walking.
Open shoulders are the foundation to good posture
Yes, opening your shoulders is THAT important for your posture. Open shoulders allow your spine more freedom and stability. Spinal alignment, in turn, creates a balanced posture. You’ll notice that through opening your shoulders, other parts of your body (such as your back and neck) will also feel less strain. On the emotional side, with an open chest – which is achieved partially through open shoulders – energy flows more freely through your system. So, opening your shoulders will not only develop good posture, but it will also help prevent pain. Are you convinced yet? Let’s get started 🙂
- Stand with your feet and back against the wall, feet hip-width apart.
- Keep your pelvis and spine straight, now draw your chin in and keep your neck long.
- Spread your arms out sideways, a little under shoulder height, hand palms against the wall.
- Feel the shoulders’ opening and adjust your arms a little (by moving them more down) if the stretch feels intense.
- If you feel comfortable enough, move a small step forward and stretch some more.
- Repeat continually throughout the day. Make sure your head and neck stay balanced on top of your spine. If you’re wearing a ponytail or bun, make sure to take it out, as this may push your neck too much forward.
- You can do this exercise while standing, sitting, or walking.
- Start from a neutral position where you have your upper body straight with your chin tucked in and a long neck.
- Relax and open your shoulders and if you are sitting, start with your hands loosely on top of your thighs.
- While keeping your abdomen activated, draw your shoulders back as far as you can without any radical movements. Keep your neck long and hold in the drawn-in position for a few seconds.
- Come back to a neutral position.
- Now, roll your shoulders as much forward as you can without any radical movements. Yup, here you are doing the exact opposite as before. Keep the ads activated, the neck long, and shoulders relaxed. Keep for a few seconds.
- Again, come back to a neutral position.
- Repeat as many times as you like.
You might have come across this exercise in my post Shoulder pain after sleeping? 5 simple tricks. I do this so frequently throughout the day, I couldn’t NOT include it in this post. As a small bonus, I have included a variation to the elbow hug just below 🙂
- Start by standing on two feet with the weight evenly divided.
- Keep your pelvis and spine straight, draw your chin in, and keep your neck long.
- Grab the elbow of the other arm behind your back.
- If you can’t, grab the other arm’s wrist or grab further up the forearm.
- Hold this pose for as long as you can. You can even make short walks walking around like this. I actually do this every day!
- Looking for an extra stretch? Try to open the shoulders further by rolling the shoulder blades toward each other. Ensure your head and neck stay balanced on top of your spine as they might tend to move forward.
BONUS: Pristanjali fold
- A variation to the elbow hug that allows for a more intense opening is the Pristanjali fold.
- First, fold your hands in prayer fashion in front of you.
- Ensure your hands are folded completely together at the little fingers, the hand’s outer edge, the thumbs, and the thumb base. Your fingertips are touching, too.
- You may leave a slight opening in the middle of the two palms.
- Once you’ve mastered this fold, try to repeat the fold behind your back.
- Enter by first folding your hands together with the fingers pointing downward, then rotate inwardly, with the fingers moving up along the spine, to get your hands to point up.
- You can also enter by first letting the little fingers touch while already pointing upward and rotating your shoulders outward to get the rest of your hand palms to touch.
- Repeat this stretch continually throughout the day, whenever you feel like it.
Want to read more about open shoulders?
I always find Yoga International a great source for deep diving into specific body-related topics. Their (often long-form) articles are backed up with scientific research but still easy to digest. Their article Relieving Neck and Shoulder Tension could be very insightful if you like to explore more.
Regarding any form of bodily movement or exercise, please note the following. If you are in severe pain or have a known condition, please consult with your treating doctor. Don’t continue to practice if you experience pain while doing so. Only practice for as long as it feels comfortable and practice mindfully. Be aware of how your body reacts.
Did you enjoy reading this post?
I sure hope you did 🙂 If you have any questions, recommendations, or experiences you want to share, I’d be more than happy to read your thoughts! You can leave your comment in the field below. Do you know someone who could benefit from these exercises for open shoulders? Feel free to share this post (via the URL bar or any of the social share buttons) and get the positive energy flowing!